Alt-F4 #7 - Megabase Mentality
We’re back, providing you with your weekly dose of Factorio content! In today’s issue 7, ChurchOrganist brings us up to speed on what has been happening with Yuoki’s mods lately, LoneWolf gives us the rundown of why decentralised smelting is clearly the way to go, and T-A-R informs us about an MMO community event happening this weekend.
Mod Spotlight: Yuoki Industries
The Yuoki Industries mod suite is similar to the other big overhaul mods (such as Krastorio 2, Bob’s, Angel’s, or Pyanodon’s) in that it creates new game content, but is unique in that it doesn’t replace vanilla content, rather adding to it, often with alternative recipes.
It is also unique in that progress is not dictated by the tech tree, but rather by having access to the materials required to make an item. To do this, it adds new materials and technologies to the game, including new ways of generating power, agriculture, and a multitude of additional rail vehicle options.
Yuoki Industries recently went through a rough patch due to the author YuokiTani (notable for supplying graphics to a wide range of Factorio mods) no longer having time to play Factorio, and thus being unable to test any new additions to the mod.
To remedy this, YuokiTani established a GitHub repository for his mods which has enabled coders in the community to step up and offer their help. Consequently, the main Yuoki mod has recently undergone a facelift to bring it more in line with the current state of the base game.
The mod has been improved in the following ways:
- There are now settings:
- Disable vanilla productivity module behaviour.
- Adjust player reach and inventory size.
- Start the game with tier 1 Yuoki power armour, a shield, battery, generator, roboport, and 50 construction robots.
- Mining times have been shortened to coincide with vanilla.
- Logistic buffer chests have been added.
- Storage chests now have logistic filters.
- All Yuoki radars have map visualisations.
- Yuoki mining drills have circuit connections.
There have also been a number of improvements to Yuoki Industries Engines, but there is still work to do on bringing it up to the same standard as the main mod. In due course, the other mods in the Yuoki Industries suite will be overhauled and improved where necessary.
For those of you interested in seeing Yuoki Industries in action: I will be streaming on Twitch at 10:00 UTC+1 on Mondays and Saturdays beginning October 3rd, starting a new Yuoki base from scratch. I will be pleased to answer any questions about the mods that I’m able to answer.
In Alt-F4 issue 4, gamebuster800 briefly touched upon the idea of smelting ore at deposits, rather than in a centralised location. The reason for this is very straightforward and easy to grasp: ore stacks to 50, while plates stack to 100. Therefore, when you ship a load of ore, you’re only sending half as many items as when you ship a load of plates. At smaller scales, such as when your factory is starting out, this isn’t that big of an issue, but when you start dealing with ore and plate counts in the tens of thousands per minute, it can make a big difference. Even with belts it’s more efficient to transport plates than ore, but with trains the difference can be overpowering.
As every experienced Factorio player will tell you, trains are the way to move large amounts of resources across long distances in the late game. Many players design rail systems that take two or even four trains in either direction, and much time and effort is spent in developing good junctions. But at the end of the day, the thing that matters most with a rail system is throughput. If you have fewer, shorter trains running, your rail system will always be more efficient than if you have more, longer trains running. Longer trains block intersections for more time, and the more trains you have running through the same area the more likely they are to spend time waiting in a jam. If you’re anything like me, you design your rail network as your base grows: you might ogle over the nice intersections and city-block patterns on /r/factorio, but at the end of the day your rails, like mine, are a mess. If that sounds at all like you, the number of trains running through your system is crucially important, and shipping plates quite literally halves it.
Even if you’re a designer, and your rail network never leaves trains waiting, you’re still capped out at a maximum throughput of about thirty trains per minute per rail, and shipping plates instead of ore allows you to ship twice as many items with the same number of trains. That halves your rail-building requirements, and it has another advantage as well: your smelting can be smaller and more compartmentalised, and less likely to take up large swathes of your main base and present a major logistical challenge. When I designed my first megabase, I centralised all smelting, and the number of trains I had to handle in a single location was excessive. Even running seven-car trains, I would repeatedly have five or six stacking and waiting to unload, and I had continuous throughput problems as a result. I literally could not unload or manoeuvre trains fast enough to keep up with my base’s demand for iron and copper, and so eventually I had to find an alternative solution. That solution was smelting plates in place: not only does shipping plates halve the number of trains in your network, it also doubles the amount of time a shipment lasts for and reduces the amount of time your trains spend shunting.
Even if you already ship plates, there’s more to megabase thinking. Suppose you see iron and copper sitting together, close enough that you can reach them with a single rail. Rather than transport copper plates and iron plates in separate shipments, you can save even more space and effort by shipping something else instead: green circuits. Your factory uses them by the tens of thousands, and they go into almost everything you need to make. Nine times out of ten, your base is using more iron and copper for green circuits than just about anything, so why not take the load off your main facilities and outsource it to somewhere there’s more space and less pollution? If you think about it, a single green circuit takes one and a half copper plates and one iron plate to produce, and they stack to 200 rather than 100 like the plates do. That means a single load of green circuits contains three loads of copper plates and two loads of iron plates — or six and four of ore. Why send ten trains when one will do? You shouldn’t convert every outpost in this way — you’ll always need copper and iron plates for other things (and even iron ore for concrete) — but in the case where you have iron and copper sitting together, why not save yourself some effort? Green circuits are hard enough to make with large throughputs anyway, but producing them in moderate amounts is trivial. You can even use this to double or triple your green circuit production without needing to find or reclaim space.
The concept, of course, stretches to infinity. Automation (red) and Logistic (green) science can be made anywhere you have iron and copper, and engine units anywhere you just have iron. Plastic can be made in place anywhere you have oil and coal. Since you’re shipping plastic and green circuits by train now, setting up an outpost near some copper which makes red circuits is mere child’s play, and then you have red circuits zipping around too. The key is to think of decentralised production as taking pressure off your main base: you don’t have to fit things in anymore or cram them in to tightly-optimised patterns when you can just spread out, and there’s no need to ship things further than you have to. Dealing with biters isn’t that big of a challenge: assuming you defend your mining drills already, adding a little area off to the side that’s also defended is no big deal. At the same time, you’ll notice your pollution decreasing: when it’s not all centralised, it gets absorbed by more tiles and trees, and has time to dissipate. You’ll want to set up radars to monitor these outposts, and I like to give them robots with repair packs also, but by the point in the game when you’re setting up this kind of late-game production that should be no big deal. Smelting in place can be done earlier, of course, but I like to at least wait until I have laser turrets or robots to ensure my satellite locations don’t run out of ammo.
At megabase scales, a lot of traditional thinking goes out the window. You don’t always need a main bus so much as you do cleverly orchestrated production, and shipping things farther than necessary or less densely than necessary can really hurt your throughput. Over time, you’ll learn to see patterns in the ores you look at on the map: iron and copper is Automation science, or electronic circuits, or ammunition; coal and oil can be plastic, or with copper a fantastic place to do red circuits. Shipping materials only short distances is a game changer, and it lets you design your base in a far more spread-out and organized manner. Rather than centralising everything, decentralise: it’ll save you time, effort, and the insanity of trying to find more space to cram things in.
Last week I was contacted by Ki Tan from Big Community Games about some exciting news: Monthly MMO events starting the first Saturday of every month. Yes, you read that correctly: it’ll start right away; this very Saturday!
If you are familiar with Factorio multiplayer, you may be familiar with these hosts already. Besides the release party “Welcome to Factorio” mentioned in Alt-F4 issue 3, they are responsible for various other large events including the unforgettable Spiffing Brit run.
Multiplayer has come a long way since our favourite local newspaper first presented it in the era of Factorio 0.11. Since then, both players and developers have wondered about the maximum number of players a single server could support. Wube wanted bug reports and the players wanted a fun session. As the performance of the game increased, bug reports became rarer. It simply required more and more people to yield “interesting” test results. The habit of announcing multiplayer sessions was born.
With the release of Factorio 1.0, the goal of large multiplayer servers shifted from testing the game to enjoying it, which introduced room for mods to spice up the gameplay. And that is exactly what is going to happen tomorrow.
Countdown has passed
Krastorio 2 has been selected as the main mod for this (returning) event. As mentioned in FFF-338, Krastorio 2 is a complete overhaul mod focussed on maintaining the vanilla feel of Factorio. This way, the event will be interesting to anyone who knows the basics of Factorio even if you don’t have any experience playing modded or multiplayer Factorio.
If you are a Factorio streamer and want to participate in the event, you can of course; it’s open to all. Streamers will be listed on the website closer to the time of the event, in a live menu on the front page and also on the BCG Discord. The server will be left running after the event for up to 2 weeks.
As always, we’re looking for people that want to contribute to Alt-F4, be it by submitting an article or by helping with translation. If you have something interesting in mind that you want to share with the community in a polished way, this is the place to do it. If you’re not too sure about it we’ll gladly help by discussing content ideas and structure questions. We’ll have a bit of a special issue next week, so if you want to get involved with that, join the Discord so you don’t miss it!